Davina McCall knows a thing or two about the pressures of being confined to a house after hosting reality show Big Brother for 10 years.
But she tells OK! that the hit series, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, didn’t prepare her for the harsh realities of lockdown. And she admits she’s been battling anxiety as she isolates at home with her children Holly, 18, Tilly, 16, and Chester, 13.
The 52-year-old explains, “I woke up today, opened my eyes and got this wave of anxiety. If you start thinking too far in advance, it becomes too much for your brain to handle.”
No doubt the star is also struggling with living apart from her partner Michael Douglas.
The couple have been friends for over 20 years and struck up a romance in 2019 – two years after her marriage split from Matthew Robertson.
Talking about their relationship recently, Davina revealed the hair stylist had often been like a “therapist” to her.
Thankfully, the pair are still finding ways to stay connected as they record their podcast Making The Cut together and Davina says she’s been staying close to her friends and family via Zoom and the phone.
Here, the star opens up about her emotional lockdown, trying to stay positive and the one thing she can’t wait to do when this crisis is over…
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How has Covid-19 affected you?
I feel a lot more connected to other humans since this all happened. That’s because it’s been such a leveller for us all. We’re all in the same boat. Everybody is in danger and everybody can do something to help. The NHS is struggling and those are the people who look after all of us.
What’s your daily routine like?
It’s back to basics. I get up, wash and keep my personal hygiene going. I brush my teeth, shower, put on deodorant, a bit of make-up and make myself feel a bit better. I’ve really got into making my bed, too. Then I take the dog out. From 10.30am, I organise calls, do housework and cook lunch. Then, more calls, more work and then I prepare dinner. It’s regimented.
Are you enjoying the time at home with your children?
Yeah, totally! My eldest is 18 so it’s like having another adult in the house. But they’re my kids and if I’m feeling worried, I try not to talk to them about it. We do chat about things being weird and we talk about little worries. But I try to not freak them out too much. I’m on the phone to my mates if I need someone to talk to.
You’re not living with your partner Michael Douglas. Are you still doing your podcast Making The Cut?
The last one we recorded together was the night Boris announced we were in lockdown. Now we’re in different households, so we’re trying new things like recording together on Zoom. We’ll do a video podcast together and also an Instagram Live. It’s funny because Michael and I struggle to talk when we’re on the phone now because we try to save everything for our podcast!
Michael is a hair stylist. Has he given you any tips while in isolation?
He’s taught me how to cut my own fringe. But I’m going to be natural and let the rest of my hair grow. My son is obsessed with the idea of shaving his head. I’ve said next time he’s at his dad’s house, he can get him to do it.
Are your family supporting the Clap For Our Carers campaign?
My kids are so used to me trying to encourage them to do things so when I first told them about clapping for the NHS, they wondered if it was a real thing! The first time we did it, standing on the doorstep clapping, was amazing. I told the kids to stop clapping for just a second to listen to everyone else. My daughter burst into tears and we all had a cry. It was so amazing that my kids felt that emotion. It’s very special.
How are your parents coping?
My dad and mum live in Gosport so they’re about two hours away from me. They’re isolating as my mum is 70 and Dad is 77. He also has advanced Alzheimer’s so that’s very hard on Mum.
How are you staying connected?
We’re having multiple WhatsApp and FaceTime calls with my mum and dad and my auntie Becca. And with my family in Australia, which is so nice. I’ve done a quiz night on Zoom, too, which was fun.
What about Houseparty?
I did try it, but Houseparty is lethal for me. Unless I lock the room straight away, I’ve got 10,000 people I don’t know gatecrashing a chat with my mum. I had to delete it, sadly.
You’re offering a free 14-day trial for your exercise platform, Own Your Goals…
Because of the lockdown, people can’t go to the gym and they can only go out once a day for a run or walk. We have thousands of hours of content with eight trainers and I just have to put it out there for everyone to enjoy. I’m already in talks about how we can extend it if we’re in lockdown for longer.
What’s the response been?
Great. I try to interact with people on social media, not because I think I have to but because I really enjoy it. It’s good to know what people do and don’t like. I recently went through the comments and I cried. They were so lovely.
How is fitness helping you during the lockdown?
It’s a mental health thing for me. I’d been off exercise for a bit but I’m back on it now. I’ve also been power walking with the dog. Even that’s really helped me sort my head out. The mental health side of fitness is so big.
What are your secrets to finding body confidence?
It isn’t about what you look like. When I was young, my skin was taut and my boobs were pert. I looked amazing but I hated myself. That was part and parcel of why I took drugs. I had a hole that I couldn’t fill with anything else. When I was in recovery my sponsor wanted me to look in a mirror and say, “I love you.” It took a long time to even say, “I like you.” But I think you can do that in terms of your body. Look in a full-length mirror every morning and say, “I love you.” I can do that now without a hint of embarrassment. It’s not arrogance, it’s self-worth.
You look great! Is it nice to have your figure admired?
It’s nice to know I can inspire others to get fit. I have the body of a 52-year-old, but I’m fit. Not as in “phwoar” fit, as in physically fit. Someone my age might see that and think, “I can get there, too.”
Everyone loved the first series of The Masked Singer. Will it return for another series?
We were booked to film this September but I think that’s been pushed back to October now. It will probably come out around the beginning of next year. It’ll be interesting to see if they allow us to have a studio audience. We’ll have to wait and see.
Can you believe it’s been 20 years since Big Brother began?
I know! My daughter Holly will be 19 in September and she was in my tummy when Brian Dowling won the second series. My children all mark various stages of Big Brother. I was pregnant with Tilly when Cameron Stout won and my son Chester when Pete Bennett won. Every year I did press for the show, and the first thing I was always asked was if I was pregnant!
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Do you think old episodes of Big Brother should be made available to watch?
Oh God, yeah. Culturally, it would be fascinating for children to watch series one. The fashion, the morals, the arguments. The fact that Nasty Nick wrote something down on a piece of paper and the entire nation vilified him. That and the fact there was no sex!
Would you like to see any other shows that you hosted air again?
I’d be proud for them to air Streetmate, Big Brother, Long Lost Family and God’s Gift. God’s Gift was the first gay game show. It was banned from Yorkshire Television and I’m quite proud of that! I once said that I was a “gay man trapped in a woman’s body”. The gay community came back and said, “You’ve only just realised this?”
What are you most looking forward to after lockdown?
I really miss hugging. I’ve said I’m going to stand outside my local supermarket with a board saying “free hugs”. It feels like people are so far away right now. I really, really miss human contact.
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